Sunday, April 4, 2010

Montessori Philosophy - The Soul of Early Childhood Teaching

Imagine all those little feet and little hands moving and working around an adult environment -- everything seems so huge to them. The tall tables, chairs and sink. The large and heavy bowls, plates and utensils. There is always a high chance to fail to do tasks independently due to the inability to handle the adult stuff or being stopped to do things.

"No! Don't touch the tea pot!" Is this something commonly heard when mummy sees her young child trying to pour a drink for herself?

How do we instill self-confidence and independence in a child if she always failed to do or is forbidden to do something for herself?

Maria Montessori had observed this more than 100 years ago and derived a philosophy which we all should take seriously.

1. Child-size furniture and household things should be available for the young children to manipulate on their own. This will help to develop their independence and self-confidence. They will take more intiatives to do things for themselves and the people around them.

2. Give them freedom, but within limitation. Some parents misunderstands that the Montessori method is giving children too much freedom. In fact, it is not true because Montessori gives a young child freedom to work within the ground rules. Hence, a child is clearly aware that she needs to be responsible for any actions that she is doing freely in the environment.

3. Child-centered teaching is important. Allow the child to express her thoughts and do things her way. If the way she does is incorrect, re-direct the child to the correct way by using positive language (e.g., "Hmm...may I show you the right way to work with this?"). There is no negative words or tone, a child is happy to let you correct her and willing to follow your way. Hence, no forcing is required.

4. Be a role-model yourself. Adults need to be good models for the children to learn from -- Action always speaks louder than words. There is no point in asking a child to keep quiet if we are the ones talking on top of our voice. They learn from us!

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